Hauser & Wirth
Zoe Leonard Aerials
"Hauser & Wirth is proud to present ‘Zoe Leonard. Aerials.' Over the past three decades, the New York–based artist has created a body of work which acutely interrogates the politics and conditions of image-making and display. This exhibition, the artist’s first at the London gallery, focuses on a series of aerial photographs created in the mid to late 1980s.
Leonard’s work – at once rigorously conceptual and highly personal – has engaged with themes such as the history of photography, loss and mourning, gender and sexuality, migration, displacement, and the urban landscape. Leonard has always taken an experimental approach. With a longstanding interest in vernacular, popular, and practical uses of photography, Leonard is drawn in particular to the deadpan appearance of photographs used in science, mapping and archiving; modes of representation that are also systems for classification and interpretation. Much of her practice calls into question the impartiality of these images and the ways in which the uses of photography have altered modern visual culture."
As Leonard explains, ‘Photography can be a means to document the real world – to convey information – but at the same time, it is a highly subjective medium, inherently reflecting the viewpoint of the photographer.’
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac
Robert Rauschenberg Spreads (1975-83)
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac (https://www.ropac.net/exhibition/spreads-1975-83):
"One of the most influential artists of the post-war period, Rauschenberg revolutionised the picture plane with his hybrid painting-sculptures, created through the innovative inclusion of everyday objects―what he called “gifts from the street”. These Combines (1954–64) marked a watershed moment in the history of post-war art, redefining and expanding the boundaries of what could be considered an artwork. It was in 1976, as the artist prepared for an important mid-career retrospective, that Rauschenberg found inspiration for his new Spreads series. The exhibition, which opened at the National Collection of Fine Arts (now Smithsonian American Art Museum) in Washington, D.C., offered Rauschenberg the opportunity to revisit works he had not seen for up to 25 years, prompting what he described as “autobiographical feelings”, and imparting a retrospective aspect to his new works.
In these Spreads, “classic Rauschenberg” motifs from his object-laden Combines resurfaced, including tyres, doors, bedding, ironing boards, mirrors, electric lights, ventilators, metal traps, images of exotic animals, bird wings, umbrellas and parachutes that recalled those in his acclaimed 1963 performance piece Pelican. Yet these fulcrum works were also informed by the materials and images of his silken Jammers (1975–76) and solvent- transfer Hoarfrosts (1974–76), whilst prefiguring his later metal works from the 1980s–90s, such as the Shiners (1986–93), Urban Bourbons (1988–96) and Borealis (1988–92).
“Rauschenberg is a painter of history―the history of now rather than then” John Richardson
Rather than a purely retrospective exercise, the development of his Spreads is also suggestive of a more complex relationship between past and present, integrating not only elements from his earlier work but also reflecting changes in his life, his practice and in contemporary art at the time. Rauschenberg’s use of fabric colour blocks in his Spreads not only represented a shift in his colour palette from the urban experience of New York to the bright oranges, pinks and yellows of life in Florida, but also engaged with recent artistic developments such as Colour Field painting and Minimalism, incorporating references to a new generation of artists."
ULAY at Richard Saltoun
Richard Saltoun (https://www.richardsaltoun.com/artists/261-ulay/overview/):
“Ulay is an unclassifiable artist whose trajectory amounts to a radically and historically unique oeuvre operating at the intersection of photography and the conceptually-oriented approaches of Performance and Body art. Between 1968 and 1971, after training as a photographer, Ulay worked extensively as a consultant for Polaroid, which inspired him to start experimenting with the analogue camera and the instant photography it provided. Taking hundreds of self-portraits, each manipulated in a myriad of ways, Ulay developed an approach that was novel in both method and subject matter, using the camera as a tool to investigate and modify identity whilst exploring socially constructed issues of gender.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Ulay’s photographic approach became demonstratively performative, eventually resulting in a long-term collaboration with Marina Abramović. Working together from 1976 to 1988, they focused on pushing the physical limitations of the mind and body. Through their Relations series, numerous actions and performative pieces, they became icons of performance art. In the 1990s, Ulay returned predominantly to photography, critically evaluating the addressing issues of nationalism, racism and inequality.”
“Drawing is at the heart of Emma’s practice and she has travelled widely, recording her responses to the physical appearance and psychological impact of natural and built environments. Working from sketches and photographic records, Emma creates stark, monochrome, often large-scale works on paper. Romantic in character, they dramatise the effects of human intervention and natural phenomena on monumental structures and explore the fragility of existence.”
I am fascinated by the immense strength of nature conveyed in her work, which reminds me of J.M.W Turner’s paintings. I am also inspired by the monochrome nature of her images, as well as her use of stark tonal contrast to highlight the monumentality of the natural forms she conveys.
“Her interest in books and libraries prompts her collages and sculpture which are often composed of found photographs spliced to create fresh narratives.”
I am intrigued by the way in which she combines images of two contrasting places so effortlessly. I am considering how I can incorporate this collaging technique into my own work.
White Noise: Poland (1999-2000)
Mummery and Schnelle (https://www.mummeryschnelle.com/pages/oriselector4.htm):
“When making the White Noise series, where Gersht photographed his train journey from Krakow to Auschwitz, the limitations of what the camera can record became compelling. ‘Photographs always struggle in places like these because the photograph is good at recording detail, but it cannot talk about the depth of emotion in the events that took place. I was interested in the challenge of what can happen in a place that the camera can never deal with.’ What resulted were white images of ‘frustrating absence’ beautifully shot and conceptually provoking.”
I really like the pared down aesthetic of the photographs. The blurred nature of the images is also compelling, and adds a layer of mystery as the narrative is nebulous. I am inspired by the way in which the artist explores the landscape around him through a powerful journey.
Painting at the Edge of the World
William Kentridge Five Themes (2010)
"This large-scale exhibition surveys nearly three decades of work by William Kentridge (b. 1955, South Africa), a remarkably versatile artist whose work combines the political with the poetic. Dealing with subjects as sobering as apartheid, colonialism, and totalitarianism, his work is often imbued with dreamy, lyrical undertones or comedic bits of self-deprecation that render his powerful messages both alluring and ambivalent. Best known for animated films based on charcoal drawings, he also works in prints, books, collage, sculpture, and the performing arts. This exhibition explores five primary themes in Kentridge’s art from the 1980s to the present, and underscores the interrelatedness of his mediums and disciplines, particularly through a selection of works from the Museum’s collection. Included are works related to the artist’s staging and design of Dmitri Shostakovich’s The Nose, which premieres at New York’s Metropolitan Opera in March 2010."
Katy Dove Luna (2004)
Hales Gallery (https://www.halesgallery.com/news/128/):
"Dove is interested in the role of the mind in informing her creative process. Her work is reminiscent of the abstract expressionism of Joan Miró (1893-1983) and Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), and relates to the Rorschach ink blot theory that we use our subconscious to bring meaning to the outside world and abstract forms.
Also a musician, Doves plays in the Glasgow band Muscles of Joy, and many of her animations have original soundtracks. There are many links between her visual art practice and her music, and her animations sometimes seem to map the visual unfolding of a song."
The Reality of Paint
I really like the way in which he makes the smeared brushstrokes appear as though they are a part of the image, almost like a photographic glitch.
The application of thin paint on a porous surface produces an incredibly soft and gentle image. I really like the lack of surrounding information, which makes the face appear as though its floating on the page. I am also intrigued by the very smooth texture of the image, which compliments its emotive subject matter.
Victoria Miro (https://www.victoria-miro.com/exhibitions/509/):
"One of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, and a pivotal figure linking American Impressionism and Abstract Expressionism, Milton Avery is celebrated for his luminous paintings of landscapes, figures and still lifes, which balance distillation of form with free, vigorous brushwork and lyrical colour."
A Line Made Walking (1967) Richard Long
A Line Made Walking (1967) Richard Long
“This photograph shows a straight line of trampled grass receding towards tall bushes or trees at the far side of what appears to be a field. Below the photograph, on the off-white paper mount, are the words ‘A LINE MADE BY WALKING’ (handwritten in red pencil) and, below this, ‘ENGLAND 1967’ (handwritten in graphite pencil).
The work documents an action by Richard Long – the creation of a transient line in nature made by repeatedly walking back and forth in a grassy field – which he then photographed from an angle at which the sunlight made the line particularly visible. The artist made this work while still a student at St Martin’s School of Art, London, where his contemporaries included the artists Gilbert & George, Barry Flanagan and Hamish Fulton. Long has described how, in June 1967, he took a train from London’s Waterloo station heading southeast, disembarked after about twenty miles and found the featureless field that was to become the site of A Line Made by Walking. Working outside the walls of the gallery in the expanded space of the real world, he created the first of his many works made by walking.”
Painting, photography, and other technologies
Record Player (1988) Gerhard Richter
“Flashbulbs, snapshots, reportage: above all else, the blur recalls camera movement and errors of printing. The vast majority of Richter’s paintings aren’t directly “of” the thing they purport to show, but rather of magazine or photo-album reproductions of it. He’ll often hammer this point home by including surrounding text: captions and advertising copy, scrapbook annotations – which, of course, blur too. What Richter is at pains to foreground is the fact of mediation, the presence, at the very origin and base of every piece, of technologies of mass-production, of repetition. He not only overwrites our perceptual relation to the world by rerouting it through its glitch-ridden mediating screens; he also brings this logic to bear on the history of art. He remakes Vermeer’s Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, not only hazing it up but also, vitally, replacing the letter the original figure holds in her fingers – a unique, hand-written article with one addressee – with a newspaper: an impersonal, mass-produced media object. Blurring up Titian’s Annunciation, he turns the image into what, for 99% of its viewers, it already was: a reproduction of a reproduction, a third-generation bootleg.
Richter’s most famous series is October 18, 1977. Painted 11 years after the events they address, the 15 works – grey, small and undramatic – show members of the Baader-Meinhof group: a youthful picture; a post-capture mugshot; the record player in which a gun was smuggled into prison and so on. Derived from press and police photographs that Richter, naturally, has blurred, the images are remarkable for the dual pull they exert towards, on the one hand, monumentality and, on the other, monochrome monotony. In another recent interview, Richter uses the term ansehnlich (“considerable”) to describe the effect of rescuing an image from the endless rush of media and paying it the attention – the devotion, we could say – of crafting it into a unique work of art. The Baader-Meinhof paintings are ansehnlich, to be sure – but they’re neither heroic nor condemnatory nor in any way resolved. “Their horror,” Richter says, “is the horror of the hard-to-bear refusal to answer, to explain, to give an opinion.” The pictures, ultra-loaded as they are, reject any attempt to bring their subject matter into focus along perspectival lines of ideology or pathos or transcendence.”
A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai) (1993) Jeff Wall
“This gigantic photograph image is based on Hokusai’s woodcut A Strong Gust of Wind at Ejiri (c. 1831). Hokusai’s woodcut is set in the typhoon season in Japan and depicts travellers struggling to hold on to their hats and other possessions in a raging gale. Jeff Wall has transplanted the scene to the landscape around Vancouver and shows a group of figures caught off-guard by a sudden gust. The work is constructed from parts of more than fifty images shot over a year, which were then scanned and digitally processed. The result took so long to assemble that Wall himself likened the procedure to cinematography than photography.”
EDWYNN HOUK GALLERY (http://www.houkgallery.com/artists/sebastiaan-bremer):
“Although Bremer has always been interested in photography, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that he began to draw directly on the surface of photographs. He has been inspired in part by nineteenth century spirit photography, and fin de siècle Symbolists such as the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, and painter Odilon Redon, but his methods partake of advanced photographic techniques. Often he will begin with a simple snapshot of friends or family or familiar places, and after enlarging it far beyond conventional dimensions, he will begin altering and embellishing the image with India ink and photographic dye.
He has often used the ink to produce fine patterns of lines reminiscent of cobwebs, or readings from seismographs. Photographic dyes also enable him to blur and mute some forms while accentuating others, and make some colours bloom while others recede into mysterious darkness. The result is an image that seems to literally vibrate with hidden consequence, as if the subject matter has sent cracks across the surface of the picture. Whilst Bremer’s choice of images inevitably grounds his work in his own biography, his imagery also makes reference to alchemy, art, and the occult, establishing unexpected connections between ordinary life, and the unconscious.”
After Richard Serra, Prop, 1968 (2000) Vik Muniz
“This work is from a series of pictures in which Muniz depicted iconic works of Minimalist sculpture. Muniz fashioned the image from dust he collected off floors in the Whitney Museum, before presenting it as a large-scale photographic print. While the work has a convincing trompe l’oeil effect, appearing as a grainy black and white photographic documentation of a three-dimensional artwork, Muniz is not interested in simply trying to trick the viewer – indeed, closer inspection reveals the image’s component pieces of lint, cobweb, hair and the like. Rather, as in all his work, Muniz attempts to explore the nature of representation itself.”